I have ascertained with no doubt remaining that the atomic density, structural tolerance, strength, etc., etc. of my 5th metacarpal is not equal to that of 1/2 an inch of varnished South East Asian hardwood.
The argument was over a damn rock. I had stolen several potted plants from outside the apartment of the caretakers of the complex. Found three or four decent sized more or less interesting rocks and created a half-wit's garden in the room. When we invited our 30 favorite Waiguoren over for to do Waiguo things—like fraternize with females and drink beer—I hadn't expected them to trash the place. But this one drunk SOB wanted more than anything to drop my rocks off our balcony. He had already tossed off two of them. I told him no. He objected. Some words back and forth. Eventually I sent him home. But by then I was irritated. Needed to have words with my wardrobe. Why I had this need is another, longer story. The wardrobe wasn't having any of it. I wound up and lay the hurt on it. Sure, it was quiet after that, but my hand ached. And how.
Didn't sleep that night. Spent much time out on the hillside above the housing units. Walked off the beer. Couldn't walk off the throb—that got worse as the night went on. Took aspirin and horse pills of vitamin B. There were stars that night. Usually the sky was obscured by low damp clouds. It was hot, no big surprise.
Various people sat with me at various times. We watched the scooter traffic. We wandered up by the library and looked out over the neon city. We looked out over the dim fields beneath the rock falls. We looked down the terraced path through the silent bamboo courtyards and open frames. It became completely quiet. Even the insects paused. Among us the half hearted gossip died. I threw pebbles with my good hand. The Eastern rim worked its way very slowly through the shades between night and dawn.
After the light had made up its mind I was taken round to the house of a benefactor. His wife didn't speak English, but they didn't have any trouble spotting stupid Americans in a fix. I was directed to Veteran's General Hospital. It wasn't far, but the hill we had to climb was work. I collapsed in a fit of opportunism in the emergency room foyer and let my friend check me in.
The emergency surgery room was in the teaching wing of the hospital. The staff wore green head to foot, except one who wore red. I was strapped to a reclining table. My arm fixed beneath green cotton to an immobilizer. Needles. No words. Bright, bright lights. My arm went numb. Red was poking around under the cotton. I looked away attempting to be ready for anything. Pain shot through the right side of my body. I struggled. Nothing changed. Red did it again. I made strangled noises and stuttered. Knew the word for pain. Used it. A woman looked into my face for several seconds then turned away. She turned back with a needle and an IV.
I woke up nauseous. My hand was numb. Several weeks later the bandages came off during a pretty good basketball game and I found twin shiny 1/16" gage wires protruding from the side of my fist about a quarter of an inch. There was puss and swelling. I was quickly ejected from the game.
The wires were curled like fish hooks. Eventually I found that I could twist them. Two or three months later they had both twisted their inch and a half length clear out. For some reason I didn't keep them. The wounds closed nicely despite all the infection during the summer. I can barely see the scars today.